In modern marketing, a firm’s understanding of its consumers is an essential part of current marketing practices, the belief being that the more intricately connected a firm is with its consumers the greater its ability to increase consumer engagement with the brand (Uncle et al., 2003). Such understanding is integral to Customer Relationship Management (Brown, 2000) as firms nowadays must attend to, and possess sound knowledge of, their consumer bases. This is achievable through strategic marketing approaches (Varadajaran, 2015). The modern marketer must now seek to provide benefits that cannot be achieved through alteration of a product/service’s attributes alone but must attend to the needs and interests of its consumers. However, the challenge is not only how to find out what these needs and interests are, but also how to access consumers, or even market to them, through the channels they most use. Consumers, due to over inundation and exposure to advertisements and marketing efforts, now actively avoid advertising, particularly in online social sites (Kelly et al., 2010). This means communication and engagement with consumers must be achieved in areas/contexts that are not dedicated solely to stimulating a purchase (Muniz & O’Guinn 2001). In effect, firms need to establish more ‘community’ based methods of engagement in which consumers broader needs are met in the round, even where that community might not be locality based. In this dissertation, I investigate the differences between tribalism and brand communities, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of key theorists writing in these two fields, I develop a set of questions about consumer advocacy in online brand communities and how instances of Tribalism and its positive outcomes may be observed.
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